OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board will recognize the Seattle-based Washington Trails Association for three outstanding trail projects at a special presentation Friday.
The association’s projects will help pay for volunteer trail teams who will maintain more than 600 miles of trails throughout the state. The teams will remove fallen trees, fix drainage structures, cut overgrown bushes and repair trail surfaces in state parks, national parks and forests, in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, in eastern Washington and at other destinations.
The Washington Trails Association’s three grant applications scored in the top 10 of nearly 60 projects competing for grant funding in the Recreational Trails Program. Funded through federal gasoline taxes, the grant program is designed to maintain backcountry trails.
“Our state’s mountains and forests are important recreation areas,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “Outdoor recreation in Washington contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to Washington’s economy. Keeping our trails in usable condition is very important to our state’s economy. Without these grants, many trails would not reopen after winter storms and summer fires.
"Each year, the Washington Trails Association mobilizes over 3,000 volunteers of all ages to repair and maintain trails across the state," said Karen Daubert, executive director of the trails association. "The Recreational Trails Program is a vital source of funding for our efforts, ensuring our volunteers have the tools, training and support they need to keep trails open and well maintained.
Cottingham will present the Recreation and Conservation Office’s Bravo Award to the association at its annual volunteer appreciation meeting at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 1, at the Seattle Center, Lopez Room, 305 Harrison St., Seattle.
The competition for grant funding is high, with projects rated by citizens and professionals on many factors, such as need, how well the project is designed and cost-effectiveness.
“Only the best projects get funded,” Cottingham said. “We consistently see high quality projects from the Washington Trails Association. Since 2006, the association has projects that have ranked in the top five every year. There’s only a handful of organizations with that kind of record.
The Washington Trails Association has been awarded 31 grants since 1996, totaling nearly $2 million. The association has contributed more than $8 million as its matching share for those grants.
“The work done by the trails association and its volunteers keeps trails open for countless numbers of hikers, mountain bikers and others,” Cottingham said. “Their work is a great example of what can happen when the state and federal government provide a little seed money and people get involved to take care of the places they love. Washington State is better off because of the work of the association and its volunteers.
Since 1994, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, through the Recreational Trails Program, has awarded more than $21 million to nearly 600 projects. Grant recipients have contributed more than $35 million in matching resources, bringing the total invested in Washington trails to more than $56 million.
The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board was established in 1964 to finance recreation and conservation projects throughout the state. For more information on the agency or its grant programs, visit the Web site: www.rco.wa.gov.